Small Wars Journal
  • "It is always dangerous for soldiers, sailors or airmen to play at politics. They enter a sphere in which values are quite different from those to which they have hitherto been accustomed"
    -- Winston Churchill
  • “Tunnel systems and irregular urban warfare are essentially advanced methods of cover and concealment. Given that the mission of the infantry is to “locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver,” if the enemy can prevent us from locating him or closing with him, it will be nearly impossible for us to destroy him.”
    -- William Birdzell
  • “For Dave Dilegge and Bill Nagle, founders and editors of Small Wars Journal. They gave the counterguerrilla underground a home, at a time when misguided leaders banned even the word ‘insurgency,’ though busily losing to one. Scholars, warriors, and agitators, Dave and Bill laid the foundation for battlefield success: our generation owes them a debt of gratitude.”
    -- David Kilcullen ('Counterinsugency' Dedication)
  • “With no other security forces on hand, U.S. military was left to confront, almost alone, an Iraqi insurgency and a crime rate that grew worse throughout the year, waged in part by soldiers of the disbanded army and in part by criminals who were released from prison.”
    -- John Spratt
  • “The Vietnam War was arguably the most traumatic experience for the United States in the twentieth century. That is indeed a grim distinction in a span that included two world wars, the assassinations of two presidents and the resignation of another, the Great Depression, the Cold War, racial unrest, and the drug and crime waves.”
    -- Donald M. Goldstein

Home, Above Feeds, Annoucement



Now available at Amazon - Blood and Concrete: 21st Century Conflict in Urban Centers and Megacities provides a foundation for understanding urban operations and sustaining urban warfare research. This Small Wars Journal (SWJ) Anthology documents over a decade of writings on urban conflict. In addition to essays originally published at SWJ it adds new content including an introduction by the editors, a preface on “Blood and Concrete” by David Kilcullen, a foreword "Urban Warfare Studies" by John Spencer, a postscript “Cities in the Crossfire: The Rise of Urban Violence” by Margarita Konaev, and an afterword “Urban Operations: Meeting Challenges, Seizing Opportunities, Improving the Approach” by Russell W. Glenn. These essays frame the discussion found in the collection’s remaining 49 chapters. Blood and Concrete continues the legacy of Small Was Journal's coverage of urban operations, conflict and combat. - Dave Dilegge, Robert J. Bunker, John P. Sullivan, and Alma Keshavarz, Editors.


Spartan Shield - Soldiers conduct urban mobility breaching training in the Middle East, Jan. 20, 2020, in support of Operation Spartan Shield. Photo by Army Capt. Candice Rose.

"Small wars are operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state whose government is unstable, inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of our Nation."

-- Small Wars Manual, 1940

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by Joanne Patti Munisteri, by Adad Alan Shmuel | Mon, 01/27/2020 - 12:50am | 0 comments
The blood price for “democracy and freedom” in Iraq continues to be steep. For over a decade “civil society” and “capacity building” programs paid for with American dollars have yielded few sustainable results.
by Jonathan C. Nielsen | Sun, 01/26/2020 - 7:57am | 0 comments
For the last two decades the perception that terrorist organizations operated as isolated, closely knit, and homogenous groups captivated the greater defense enterprise. Threats such as the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Boka Haram, and even Iran, China, and Russia are believed to be geographically limited and membership restricted. Regardless of the location, threat, or era, it is easy to conflate the attributes of current threats with those of past adversaries as one and the same. In doing so, there is the tendency to continue to apply well-understood and universal strategies to threats that are perceived as the newest version of a known idea, model, or practice. Why do we persist on this flawed logic?
by Mahmut Cengiz | Sat, 01/25/2020 - 9:11am | 1 comment
The IRGC and its military wing, the Quds Force, have been two of the top security issues in the Middle East for several years. The Quds Force, for example, is involved in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, maintains close relationships with terrorist groups in the Middle East and, in 2019, and was designated a terrorist group by the United States. The IRGC, meanwhile, has stepped up its efforts to target Americans and achieved its goal of increasing tensions in the region.
by Joseph J. Collins | Fri, 01/24/2020 - 8:51am | 0 comments
The war in Afghanistan is at an impasse. The current and next U.S. administrations will have to grapple with the aftereffects of an 18-year campaign in a country that has been at war for over 40 years. The war in the field is a stalemate. Neither side seems able to win. At home and abroad, among friends and even some enemies, war weariness and a desire for peace is very much in evidence, even as the fighting continues. Neither side has been able to find a path to a negotiated settlement.
by Sadaf Lakhani, by Rahmatullah Amiri | Fri, 01/24/2020 - 8:20am | 0 comments
Forced displacement affects over 70 million people worldwide and is among the most pressing humanitarian and development challenges today. This report attempts to ascertain whether a relationship exists between displacement in Afghanistan and vulnerability to recruitment to violence by militant organizations.
by Nathan P. Jones | Fri, 01/24/2020 - 3:55am | 0 comments
One of the most impressive things about this book is its readability. Reading government reports is dry stuff. Yet here, Klare has carefully gleaned the Pentagon’s view of Climate Change from abstruse and difficult to come by reports to give us a highly readable 20,000-foot view of the literature. I read it leisurely in just over two days in my free time.
by Arin Kumar Ghosh | Thu, 01/23/2020 - 3:01am | 0 comments
Even if Iran is able to procure modern aerial munitions and fighter jets, perhaps in October of 2020 if Russia sells such systems to Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei likely realizes he will still likely never procure symmetric munitions that will effectively counter Iran’s enemies. The continuing development of the IRGCAF’s offensive drone and cruise missile capabilities, however, give him a limited aerial capability window he and Iran so desperately need.
by Jason Payne | Thu, 01/23/2020 - 12:32am | 2 comments
Is it ethical for the country’s intelligence agencies to exploit nearly every known wireless communication modality in favor of U.S. policies and interests even though it could potentially involve spying on countless American citizens in violation of the Fourth Amendment? Edward Snowden utilized principles of ethical decision making, but faulty logic resulted in a treasonous act with longstanding damage to U.S. intelligence operations and foreign diplomacy.
by Nate Wilson, by Thomas M. Hill | Wed, 01/22/2020 - 11:44am | 0 comments
The conference was another international attempt to end Libya’s conflict, but it remains to be seen if any progress was made.
by Carter F. Smith | Wed, 01/22/2020 - 7:35am | 0 comments
This note reviews the current state of military-trained gang members (MTGMs) in the United States military. MTGMs, whether from Street Gangs, Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs), or Domestic Terrorist Extremist (DTE) groups, have endangered U.S. communities since before the birth of the country.

Blog Posts

by, by Voice of America | Tue, 01/28/2020 - 12:17am | 0 comments
"Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday that U.S. strategic goals could include drawing down troops in Africa despite French pleas that American support is 'critical' to countering the growing strength of terror groups in the region with links to the Islamic State and al-Qaida."
by SWJ Editors | Tue, 01/28/2020 - 12:13am | 0 comments
Via Human Rights Watch - "In his testimony last week in the pre-trial hearing of five men charged with plotting the September 11 attacks on the United States, Dr. James Mitchell vividly described his role in torturing detainees in the program he helped design for the Central Intelligence Agency."
by Voice of America | Mon, 01/27/2020 - 7:26pm | 0 comments
A United States military plane used to help troops communicate and share intelligence on the battlefield has crashed in a Taliban-controlled region of Afghanistan, U.S. military officials confirmed Monday.
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 01/27/2020 - 10:48am | 0 comments
Via the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism - The Hague - "2019 marks (sic – marked) the fifth year of the Sinjar massacre that was performed by the terrorist organisation known as the 'Islamic State' (Daesh). As each year passes, the issue may feel further removed for people not directly affected. Yet—for those awaiting family members to return—it marks yet another year in which the perpetrators of this crime against humanity are not brought to justice."
by The Wall Street Journal | Mon, 01/27/2020 - 7:02am | 0 comments
"NATO’s members are aiming to boost the number of training and military advisory personnel at the alliance’s mission in Iraq, in response to President Trump’s call for them to do more in the Middle East, officials said."
by Voice of America | Mon, 01/27/2020 - 6:55am | 0 comments
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former military chief Benny Gantz, his challenger in early March elections, are set to have separate meetings Monday at the White House, where U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to share details of his long-awaited plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
by Stars & Stripes, by Agence France-Presse | Mon, 01/27/2020 - 12:23am | 0 comments
"A rocket attack on the heavily fortified Baghdad Green Zone on Sunday hit the U.S. Embassy, drawing condemnation from Iraq’s acting prime minister, who said such acts threaten to drag the country into a new conflict."
by Bloomberg News | Mon, 01/27/2020 - 12:21am | 0 comments
"Libya’s internationally recognized government said Sunday that repeated attacks by rival commander Khalifa Haftar have rendered a fragile truce all but meaningless, as the United Nations warned that foreign powers were setting the stage for even more fighting in the OPEC nation."
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Mon, 01/27/2020 - 12:19am | 0 comments
Ukraine's military said two of its soldiers were killed and two wounded in the country's eastern Donbas region. In a statement on January 26, the military said one soldier was killed and another wounded by gunfire, while in a separate incident another soldier was killed and another wounded by an improvised explosive device (IED).
by Associated Press | Sun, 01/26/2020 - 12:08pm | 0 comments
"A new poll shows Americans are more likely than not to support President Donald Trump’s decision to order a drone strike that killed an Iranian general, even amid widespread skepticism about his foreign policy overall."
by Associated Press | Sun, 01/26/2020 - 12:14am | 0 comments
"U.S. troops at military outposts ín eastern Syria asked variations of the same question to their top commander Saturday: What is our future here? What are the goals we need to think about?"
by The Wall Street Journal | Sun, 01/26/2020 - 12:13am | 0 comments
"Iraqi security forces on Saturday regained control over some areas in central Baghdad and southern cities after an influential cleric withdrew his support for widespread protests, clearing the way for the government to end a nearly four-month-old uprising."
by The British Broadcasting Corporation | Sat, 01/25/2020 - 12:27am | 0 comments
"Incoming, Incoming!" The loudspeaker screeches out a warning of a rocket attack at Union III, the US-led coalition base in Iraq's capital, Baghdad.
by Institute for the Study of War | Sat, 01/25/2020 - 12:19am | 0 comments
"American policymakers should not perceive the January 24 march as representative of all Iraqis or as a political mandate that warrants abandoning U.S. security commitments to Iraq. The relative success of the anti-U.S. march is unlikely to significantly alter the character or core objectives of Iraq’s pre-existing protest movement, which include a unified and sovereign Iraq free from sectarian divides, corrupt elites, and foreign interference from all actors, including Iran and the United States."
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Fri, 01/24/2020 - 7:03am | 0 comments
As the United States is poised to sign a peace agreement with the Islamist Taliban movement in Afghanistan, there are signs that a lasting settlement between the insurgents and Afghan society might prove more of a challenge than an accord between Washington and the Taliban.